Messiness and clutter can be a major source of anxiety. As we mature, keeping our lives orderly becomes more necessary and the process of doing so can even become calming and satiating to some (me). There are plenty of brilliant techniques when it comes to bringing order to our physical environment. Most organizational processes, however, ignore the role that clutter plays in our internal well-being. When our schedules, emotions, and values become chaotic, our sense of internal peace is compromised, and this can be even more stressful than living in a disorderly home.
Here are three ways to keep your spirit fresh, unruffled, and clear:
Take an Emotional Inventory
Write down your fears, worries, and resentments. Dive deeply into each one, and analyze where they come from. You are likely carrying a tremendous amount of baggage that you didn’t even know existed. Decide what to do with each major emotional hurdle: conquer it, make peace with it, or let it go entirely. This will take a lot of work, and may take years to totally complete. However, giving a name to your problems and tracing them to their source, though difficult, will lead to a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightness. Although some negativity will never go completely away, simply taking steps to identify and understand it will go a long way towards de-cluttering your soul.
Let Your Values Dictate Your Schedule
You are most likely wasting a massive amount of time and energy on pursuits that do not contribute to your internal sense of well-being. Write out a schedule of your week, and alongside it list your core values. Identify which aspects of your schedule are meeting which needs, and ensure that these are aligned with your priorities. For example, going to work may not feed your soul, but if it provides for your children then it is certainly worthy of your time. You may discover that you spend an unacceptable amount of time on activities that do not align with your core values, like television or a toxic relationship.
You may also find that there are important areas of your life you have been unconsciously neglecting. For example, if you listed spiritual growth as one of your values, but do not see its importance reflected in your daily life, you might want to cut down on a non-essential area to make more time for meditation, church services, or time in nature.
Tidy Up Your Living Space
Your home should be a sanctuary in which your soul finds peace and respite. If you feel at home in chaos, that’s just fine – by all means, do what makes you feel comfortable. If, however, you feel the most free when your space is organized and uncluttered, then I suggest you set aside a day – or a whole weekend, depending on the size of your space and the depth of the mess – to organize. You may want to use a proven system. Kon-mari is a very popular one that many households swear by. I myself like to spread mechanisms with which to organize everyday items among the house in a decorative way. We use pieces similar to these in order to corral potential clutter into places that are easy both on the eyes and on our morning schedule. Find a system that is intuitive to you and compatible with your everyday life – it’s only sustainable if you are able to stick to it easily.
As Leo Babauta once said, “The point of simple living, for me has got to be: A soft place to land, a wide margin of error, room to breathe, lots of places to find baseline happiness in each and every day.” Keeping your emotional state, schedule, and home free from clutter is necessary for simple living and for giving yourself the room to breathe and margin of error that Babauta is talking about. Live simply in the way that he describes, and you, too, will have more time and energy with which to seek happiness every day.